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Paul Meyer on Lynchburg

As with much Paul Meyer writes, I must ask what stories like this accomplish. A winning minor league baseball team in Lynchburg, Virginia is not worthy of coverage in a major paper in Pittsburgh, unless the winning on that team is likely to have some relevance to major league baseball in Pittsburgh. I see few reasons to believe that it will.

Meyer, to his credit, does not say directly that any of the players he discusses in his article are top prospects (except for Javier Guzman, who actually is a prospect, albeit certainly not the top prospect Meyer says he is). But I have to wonder what he's trying to do now, since he has hyped players like Victor Mercedes and Josh Bonifay as "exciting prospects" long after the point when anyone with a clue could have mistaken them as such.

Other than Guzman, the players mentioned in the present article include Kyle Bloom (who actually is a prospect but is only mentioned by name) and Josh Sharpless (who is a prospect but doesn't play for Lynchburg anymore). Also included is Bryan Holliday, who looks a little like a prospect, mostly in the sense that he's young.

After that, there's Brad Rea, who's about to turn 26. Here's Gary Redus on Rea: "You don't consider him a prospect, but you look around and next year he could be in Altoona, then the next year Indy and who knows. He could be one of those guys who could be in Pittsburgh."

Translation: "Don't you have better things to write about?"

I'm all for coverage of the minor leagues in Pittsburgh papers, especially since the Pirates have tended to be so bad recently. But I don't understand the point in tossing out a bunch of names without providing any sort of context. (Actually, I do understand the point: Meyer is essentially a PR guy for the Pirates.) So here is the context.

Meyer mentions in the article that the Hillcats have clinched a playoff berth (and if you're wondering how they did that already, it's because the Carolina League awards playoff berths for teams with good records in the first half of its season).

But Lynchburg has managed to clinch that berth despite poor pitching. So their hitting must be great, right? Here are their hitting stats for the year.

Reasons Lynchburg is Killing in the Carolina League:

  1. Pat Magness .293/.448/.524. Magness is 27 and a first baseman; he's not even close to being a prospect.
  2. Adam Boeve .311/.420/.561. Boeve is 25 and doesn't play a key defensive position. He turned 23 around the time he was drafted, so his pro career has been short, but it still seems safe to say that he's not a prospect.
  3. Andy Wilson .351/.479/.447. Wilson is Jack's brother. He's 29 and not a prospect.
  4. Bobby Kingsbury .278/.399/.523. Kingsbury is a 24 year-old corner outfielder who has never posted an OBP above .317 in his pro career before this year. Next.
  5. Javier Guzman .317/.367/.474. A real prospect! Yay!
  6. Mike McCuistion .290/.383/.441. As a 23 year-old catcher, McCuistion is kind of a prospect if you squint just the right way. He has never hit much before this year, however.
  7. Brad Rea .260/.347/.419. Rea is about to turn 26, he doesn't hit enough, and he doesn't play a key defensive position. Forget it.
That's it. For all the offensive firepower, there are one and a half prospects there. On the pitching side, there also isn't much. There's Bloom, who just arrived. There's Wardell Starling, who has good stuff and has been impressive at times this year but currently has a 5.05 ERA, with uninspiring K/BB numbers. And there's Jonathan Albaladejo, who is a marginal prospect in his second turn through the league.

As a group of prospects, the Lynchburg team - which consists mainly of Dave Littlefield draftees and acquisitions - is pitiful. There are very few players who have a chance to help the Pirates. So why doesn't Meyer say so? And why should any Pirates fan care that the team is playoff bound, if their minor league success is unlikely to translate to big league success?